We don’t need no education

Daddy Long Legs was telling me he needn’t have gone to law school to study law – with a reasonable grasp of English and access to the right books, he could have become a lawyer all by himself. I don’t mean to sound dense, but isn’t the point of college that you get access to the right books, and a chance to learn about the ones you haven’t gotten round to reading yet? Kanga and Palkhivala’s tome on Income Tax, for example?


Back to square one?

Have you ever had a moment of absolute certainty slowly taken apart till you’re no longer even certain you’re you?

A proposal you’ve made in complete confidence been accepted, and then you aren’t so confident any more?

I seem to be at sea, but it might not be a bad place for someone who wants to make a living looking for pearls, huh?

So, about what I’m doing now. I’ve gone and tied my fortunes to a budding idea. Thankfully it’s one that the institution I’m with is willing to tie itself to, too. Which means we sink or swim together. Right now, we’re floating. Just about.

It’s a spanking new university. Well, some parts of it have been around for the past 200 years, but as a university, it’s spanking new.

It’s a women’s university. I still wonder, sometimes, about that nature of the space. I definitely don’t think feminism is something only women are (or should be) interested in; at the same time, the fact that it is a womens’ space makes talking about gender and feminism much easier. The ‘exclusiveness’ of the academic spaces I’ve inhabited so far has always niggled; so working in a space committed to inclusion is wonderfully liberating.

At the same time, liberty is scary. This is a women’s university in a rural area – the kind of place that has only existed on the fringes of my reality till date; the other side of my nowhere, so to speak. Being at liberty here is exciting, like being an explorer. And just the little, teeny-weeny bit scary that makes it extremely fun.

I need to go back to school.

Taxes and singledom

That was the theme for class today, and it was so much fun, I decided to blog it!

We started with the tax rate slabs in place as of date. These are progressive slabs, which means as much of your income as falls within a particular slab is taxed at the rate applicable to that slab.

For men:

  • Upto Rs. 1,00,000 – 0%
  • 1,00,001- 1, 50,000 – 10%
  • 1,50,001 – 2,50,000 – 20%
  • 2,50,001 above – 30%

For women:

  • Upto Rs. 1,35,000 – 0%
  • 1,35,000 – 1,50,000 – 10%
  • 1,50,000 – 2,50,000 – 20%
  • 2,50,000 above – 30%

Let’s take a man and a woman with equal incomes: Rs.5,00,000 each.

His tax:

  • Upto Rs. 1,00,000 – 0% = 0
  • 1,00,001- 1, 50,000 – 10% = 5,000
  • 1,50,001 – 2,50,000 – 20% = 20,000
  • 2,50,001 above – 30% = 75,000

A total tax amount of Rs. 1,00,000, which makes it an average rate of 20% on his total income.

Her tax:

  • Upto Rs. 1,35,000 – 0% = 0
  • 1,35,001- 1, 50,000 – 10% = 1,500
  • 1,50,001 – 2,50,000 – 20% = 20,000
  • 2,50,001 above – 30% = 75,000

A total tax payment of Rs. 96,500, which makes her average tax rate 19.3%. Because of the extra 35,000 that are exempt, of course.

Now, let us assume these two get married. An ideal marriage, an equal partnership where both have equal incomes and equal access to the household’s funds. The still get taxed as individuals, at the same rate, so they pay Rs.1,00,000 + Rs.96,500 = Rs.1,96,500 out of their total income of Rs.10,00,000. That’s 19.65%. So, the average tax rate has gone down for him and up for her. That’s what we call a tax disincentive. For the woman, that is!

Now let’s take a second scenario. Two women are trying to decide whether they should take this job which pays Rs.5,00,000 a year; one’s single and one’s married to someone who’s already earning Rs.5,00,000.

As we saw above, the single woman is going to end up paying tax at an average rate of 19.3%, the married woman at an average rate of 19.65%. As if all that work at home weren’t enough of a disincentive to take the job, she pays tax at a higher average rate than her single counterpart!

We could keep doing scenarios: woman earning less than partner at time of marriage, now has chance to earn more; woman earning more, what does marriage do to her tax liability? And we did end up doing them – some in class, all together; and from recent evidence, some in other classes, by ourselves.

What fun to do this in a class as responsive as this one!


Someone suggested yesterday that the reason I enjoy myself so much at work is a love for speaking in public.

So what does this say about me? Or about what I should be doing?!

Recruitment time

Bad poetry arrives
Out of a desperation so intense
That words do not suffice
Unless randomly capitalised

Out of fighting with committees again
And half-the-class-walking-outs
Sorrow, frustration and anger
That could explode heads off people’s shoulders

Out of adrenaline
Pumped by hands-in-the-air-I-have-a-question
Excitement, exhilaration and the enjoyment
Of smiles, nods and fast-scribbling pens

Bad poetry arrives
Out of conflicting emotions
And reactions to same-old-same-old
That defy the rules of grammar

Metaphysical Ruminations*

There was once a stone. A stone, like many other stones, like any other stone. Like all stones, she decided what stone she’d like to be. Yes, stones do. Some on purpose, some because they’re too lazy to move their asses from where they fell, and some because they’re scared to.

So, she decided what kind of stone she was going to be, and went and stood under some dripping water. Because that was the kind of stone she wanted to be, see? She wanted to break the fall of those little drips, before they hit the hard ground with a big thud that would change them forever.

She knew, of course, that in the centre of her, in what people would call her heart, there was a little hollow with water in it, water she was protecting with all of the rest of her.

She knew, of course, that those little drips were changing her, too – that was why she was there, wasn’t it?

But what does it do to her to stand there and know that every time a little drip hit her, it was going “Ouch! Bloody hell!”? Is it enough that when some of the little drips finally hit the hard ground with a big thud that changed them forever, they go “Thank God we’ve gotten used to this”, and that some even yell out “Thanks, stone, for showing us what we’re up for!”?

She wonders, sometimes, what happens to the little drips; some so bright, with the sunlight sparkling on them, some steady on a course that seems like it would lead to the great big ocean. Some that make little splashy sounds of fun at her, some that go by quietly. Do they know that she wonders about them? Does the wondering change her, day by day?

Drip, drip, drip. With each drip they come closer to what she hides in her heart; to the water that is of them, by them, for them. What when they wear her through to it?

*Inspired by a long bout of work I didn’t want to do – don’t blame me!

‘Tis over

The madness that I’ve been caught up in is over. Chinmayi blogs about it here, so I shall just talk about general stuff around it.

A lot of obfuscating language, but some delightfully original thinking. A lot of having to think, but also a lot of not being able to, because my head was too heavy. Some wonderful speakers, some terrible ones. A lot of old friends, and a few new ones. Three exhilarating days.